Natasha Pierre McCarthy: Growing Vitiligo Awareness and Acceptance
By Wyndi Kappes
Natasha Pierre McCarthy is not just a mother of three, but also a superhero to many individuals coping with vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disorder that causes loss of pigment in patches on the skin. In 2010, she founded the National Vitiligo Bond Foundation to provide hope and support to individuals living with vitiligo in Georgia and beyond.
Through her advocacy program, McCarthy mentors youth with vitiligo to become advocates themselves, empowering them to accept their condition and live their lives to the fullest. She even created a journal for youth to express themselves when words are hard to find. “My mom has inspired many youth, their parents, and adults to accept their vitiligo and live their lives to the fullest,” says McCarthy’s daughter Chloe. “She has turned her autoimmune skin disorder into a beautiful superpower for youth and adults alike.”
Through social media, parents from all around the world have begun reaching out for help with referrals to dermatologists, start-up group consults, camouflage makeup, bullying and more. McCarthy’s organization educates and assists in creating a “wrap” around children so that they do not feel alone or isolated. They inform, educate and empower people with and without the disorder to partner and take action to solve a myriad of physical, mental, emotional and social problems that present with vitiligo.
The impact of McCarthy’s organization is evident in the stories of those she has helped. She has been instrumental in assisting people in accepting their condition and how to live life without fear of what others might think. “Many parents have shared that because of her advocacy, they were able to talk with their child about vitiligo,” Chloe shared.
One of the organization’s main initiatives is to promote vitiligo awareness during June, which is recognized as Vitiligo Awareness Month in Georgia and around the country. McCarthy personally has worked with Georgia Governer Brian Kemp and other Georgia senators to create a National Vitiligo Awareness Day (HRES 718) in Congress that she hopes will raise awareness and combat bullying. Additionally, through collaboration with well-known brands, members from the National Vitiligo Bond Foundation have been featured in national ads, commercials and music videos; and on album covers, makeup, clothing and other product packaging.
“My hope is to continue to bridge the gap and to let members in the community know that they belong,” says Natasha. “It’s important to me that individuals with vitiligo feel supported and empowered to live their lives to the fullest.”
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